A Memory In The Making

 

You don’t have to be a perfect parent to have a perfectly great time!

STOP. REWIND. Let’s try this one again, I thought, only wishing it were possible. My idea for creating a wonderful memory wasn’t turning out as planned. The fun cookie-bake I had imagined was ending with dough-covered children and a goo-smeared dining room carpet. “Just go clean up, and I’ll finish the rest,” I told the kids, frustrated with the mess.

 

“But . . .” the chorus of three responded. “This is fun!”

 

Fun? Bickering over cookie cutters and dough territory is fun?

 

My mind flashed to a haloed image of happy children singing Christmas Carols as they cut and sprinkled cookies. My kids weren’t following my ideal, but a memory was in the making all the same. I was left with only one alternative: making the most of the sticky situation. I had to lick the dough off my fingers and put my best (flour-sprinkled) foot forward. Here are five strategies that worked for me:

           

Check Your Attitude

Though usually not a parent’s first response to a family fiasco, gratitude is essential. Once I stopped long enough to find something good about my situation, I didn’t feel quite as sorry for myself. After all, I was spending time with my kids. And they did look kind of cute covered in cookie dough.

 

We can show our children we are thankful for the opportunity to be with them-even if things aren’t going according to plan. Brainstorm with your children and discover ways to make the event more enjoyable for everyone.

 

After talking with my kids, we decided we just needed to get organized. The children divided the remaining cookie dough into three sections then took turns rolling and cutting out the cookies. They each had one-on-one time with me (which made them happy), and the dining room survived intact (which made me happy).

 

Create the Atmosphere

When gauging the atmosphere of your time together, look at it through your children’s eyes. Ask yourself, “Is this the memory I want to give them?” If it isn’t, change it.

 

I decided I wanted to be remembered as a fun mom, not a grouch. Since the kids were already having fun, I was the one in need of an attitude adjustment. Amazingly, the atmosphere immediately took a turn for the better after that.

 

Bend Over Backwards

I’ve heard it said, “Rigid people are brittle and break easily.” It’s a catchy phrase, but being flexible takes a lot more bending then most parents, including me, enjoy. The first exercise in flexibility is turning that frown into a smile, or better yet, turning that sigh into laughter. In his book, ­Hugs for Moms, John William Smith says, “Who can remedy a deplorable situation? What weaponry will you use to stop this rushing wall of tension that threatens all of mankind? Laughter. You find the humor in the moment, and you laugh.”

 

The second exercise in flexibility is stepping out of your comfort zone. I often have to remind myself that life doesn’t fall apart if things don’t turn out the way we’ve planned. By throwing away the agenda, parents are free to go with the flow and even follow their children’s lead. As a result, I’ve discovered even odd-shaped cookies taste great.

 

Adapt Your Expectations

Sometimes the only problem with memory-making is the parent’s expectations. Make sure yours approximate reality and then focus on what your children are doing right. I found rolling up my sleeves and getting busy offering help and encouragement was exactly what was needed. My hands were covered with dough, but the situation was much less sticky from then on.

 

My unfulfilled expectations weren’t nearly as disheartening when I took time to focus on my children’s delight. No amount of perfectly baked cookies could ever replace that.

 

Shape Future Smiles

In her book, The Family Manager, Kathy Peels says, “Memories. We talk about them as though we have a choice of whether or not to make them. We act as if circumstances of life are like disappearing ink-only there for a moment. We forget our children’s minds are like computer disks-constantly recording information. Who’s to know which memories will be erased and which will be indelibly etched in their minds?”

 

Our days our filled with events that will be forever remembered. The question is, will they also be forever cherished? I hope to look back someday at all the family flops with a smile or even a laugh-recalling those moments when fiascoes were turned into fun memories. I wonder what type of memories will cling to my children? Hopefully one memory will be of their mother’s dough-covered, flour-splattered smile.

 

Remember When . . .

To get an idea of what things mean the most to your children, think about some of your own favorite memories.

 

1.      What was your favorite pastime as a child?

2.      Think about one special memory about each of your siblings.

3.      What was your favorite meal?

4.      What were some of the most memorable books you read?

5.      Think of one particularly memorable event.

6.      What scent or sound immediately takes you back to childhood?

7.      What meaningful advice did you receive from an adult?

8.      Think about someone who influenced your life profoundly.

9.      Think about your proudest moment.

 

Now share these memories with your child. Then ask him to do the same. Your memory exchange will be unforgettable!

© Tricia Goyer

By Tricia Goyer, author of Generation NeXt Parenting

For more information go to: www.triciagoyer.com

10 thoughts on “A Memory In The Making”

  1. Isn’t this article great??? I so often am guilty of taking more pleasure in planning the perfect project/party and then letting the children’s silliness get to me instead of letting “kids be kids”…I’m getting better, but this from Tricia is priceless encouragement, especially at this time of year! Some frame-worthy quotes in the above!

  2. Sometimes “the more the merrier” isn’t so true when baking! I do much better when it’s one on one, at least when the kids were 6 and under.

    So I really needed this post…just in time for some holiday baking sprees!

  3. I liked this post, good reminder. I have to admit I do stuff with the kids, and then sometimes I do stuff after they go to bed that they “could’ve” helped with, but I wanted the project to go smoothly. I’m certain my children think that homemade jam magically appears from elves during the night. I taught out young married gals from church a jam making class, and explained the canning process/science. My oldest daughter came with me and got to make jam for the first time. Pretty sad…And I have to force myself to teach cooking dinner, and leave 3 times the time to get it done. But it’s worth it. I now have 5 children at home who can put together a decent meal for 12 – 16 people. If I didn’t love to cook, I wouldn’t really have to now.

  4. I can identify… And canning is less stressful if done at night…hee…once one of my good friends (also a homeschooling mom) came over and canned all night with me…her dh stayed with her kids and mine were in bed…worked great! I think we as moms have to be well fortified (by God!) before undertaking a “fun” family project…like Tricia says in the above article, to get the “perfect” part out of the equation and be ready to go with the flow. If we’re not up to it, stress wise, then for me, at least, it’s better left for another day!

  5. Sounds like it turned into a wonderful memory for your kids! Thanks for this…it will help me when my lil guy is wanting to “help”!

  6. You’re welcome, but just making sure you know I wasn’t the author on this one! Tricia Goyer provides several articles a month to MOPS and parenting groups/blogs and I’m on her list! When I post them you’ll always see it copyrighted in her name at the end. I need to think up a header for her posts to let people know right at the beginning…maybe I’ll just move the copyright to the top next time!

  7. I’m glad the story struck a chord. The older I get the more I go with the flow!

    Thanks for sharing me :-)
    Tricia

  8. You bet! Thanks for letting me! I know I’ll wish I made more “memories” of the good variety with my kiddos…it’s nice to have an older mom’s concrete reminder to not “sweat the small stuff”!

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